Maybe the most obvious starting point in thinking about our text for this week, Ephesians 6:10-18, is thinking about how the elements of the spiritual “whole armor of God” strengthen us in the life of Christian faith. How does truth help us “stand”? How does righteousness or justice help us “stand”? Proclaiming the gospel of peace? Faith? Salvation? The Spirit, or the Word of God? Time spent thinking deeply about all that is probably time well spent.
Time spent thinking about the consequences of NOT having some of that equipment – truth, for instance, or righteousness/justice, or a readiness to proclaim the good news – is probably a good investment, too.
Some notes on the text are here. And here are a couple of additional questions we might want to think about, or discuss in class:
What’s our understanding of the “struggle” mentioned in the text, against “the wiles of the devil” and the array of the “spiritual forces of evil”? How does this text reinforce that understanding, or challenge it?
[more personal] Do we ourselves experience this struggle, would we say? How?
[even more personal] How do we deal with this struggle? How satisfied are we with that? What are we doing about that?
[also more personal, maybe a follow up to the question above] Do we ourselves feel “well-armored”? Or, if we examine the state of our own equipment, what do we seem to find? Why is that, do we think? And, what are we doing about it?
[maybe a lot more personal] Do we ask ourselves this question much? Do we ask one another this question? Should we, do we think? Why? And why do we suppose we think that?
What does it mean to us to “pray in the Spirit”?
[more personal] How are we doing at persevering in prayer and supplication? Why is that, do we think?
[maybe a lot more personal] What seems to help with that? Again, what are we doing about that?
Overall, this feels like one of those passages of scripture that really prompts us to examine ourselves, and our own practices, and to “take stock.” And, that gives us a clear rationale for doing so: if we want to “stand,” here’s what we need to do. Moreover, it reminds us that this “standing” business isn’t strictly an individual matter, either; standing is something that Christians help one another to do, drawing on the strength and grace of Jesus Christ. So we may also want to spend some time reflecting on how seeing to our own spiritual well-being is not only something we owe God, and ourselves, but also something we owe one another. In our individualistic world, that may come as a surprise to us. And the more we think about that, the more we may wonder whether that, too, has something to do with the “methods” at work in this “struggle” we’re engaged in.
Image: “The Conversation,” Arnold Lakhovsky, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.